Symposium 2012: What is your outlook for the economy? What do you perceive to be the biggest threat to the U.S. economy?

Sydney: The U.S economy obviously has a lot of room for improvement. If the government can get its act together and implement some fiscal reforms then it can definitely recover. The main problem is the country is still mired in debt. The debt ceiling and fiscal cliff debates have shown that both parties are unwilling or unable to compromise but the simple fact is that the government needs more money.

Taxes will have to increase and the budget will have to be cut in some areas. So the government itself is most likely the biggest threat to the economy but it is not the only one. Many European countries are also struggling and millions of dollars are being given to them to try to bail them out. So far everything the European Union has done seems to be working but there’s only so much money to go around. If things get worse in Europe and the Euro zone in general falls into recession then this will have a negative impact on America. The U.S would probably fall back into recession regardless of anything the government itself chose to do.

Taxes will have to increase and the budget will have to be cut in some areas. So the government itself is most likely the biggest threat to the economy but it is not the only one. Many European countries are also struggling and millions of dollars are being given to them to try to bail them out. So far everything the European Union has done seems to be working but there’s only so much money to go around. If things get worse in Europe and the Euro zone in general falls into recession then this will have a negative impact on America. The U.S would probably fall back into recession regardless of anything the government itself chose to do.

Michigan: I am so sorry to say that my outlook is very grim. I never thought I would see our country in the state of demise that it is in. Once we get past the “cliff” we have to deal with unemployment, government spending, trade and the economy that is stalled out at 2009 numbers. We also have not seen the last of the housing market and the problems in the banking industry. Our National Debt? Where will it go from here?
RMC3: I don’t think the economy is doing well; it just sort of muddling along. Growth has been tepid and probably will be for the foreseeable future. I believe there’s this huge sense of uncertainty among businesses regarding the actual impact of Obamacare and the fiscal cliff and the overall fiscal situation in Washington. I don’t believe businesses have much to be optimistic about. They’re facing higher taxes and higher costs associated with healthcare, and that’s just from Obamacare. We don’t know how, when, or if the Congress is going to resolve the fiscal cliff and how that will impact businesses and consumers, and we don’t know if they’re going to do anything permanently about spending and the debt.

Here’s the reality. Every dollar more in taxes that the taxpayers must pay as a result of Obamacare and an expiration of the Bush tax cuts is one less dollar that the consumer can spend on groceries, clothes, rent, gas, whatever. The increase in taxes that is coming is going to have a sucking sound on our economy. Taking taxes from consumers to turn around and pay interest on our debt to the Chinese isn’t helping anyone but the Chinese. Taking money from the taxpayers and sending it to people overseas isn’t helping our economy and the people here in the United States. Let’s not hit the consumers with tax increases in this weak economy. Let’s encourage the Congress to spend the taxpayers’ money more wisely and frugally.

It appears that consumers have accepted higher gas prices, and we’re starting to see the increase in energy prices filter down to food prices which have been increasing. I believe we’re going to start seeing inflationary pressures in the next couple years, which isn’t necessarily good for the economy. There’s only one way for interest rates to go, even though the Fed has indicated they’ll keep rates at close to 0% for as long as necessary to get the economy going. But the Fed can keep rates at 0%. The banks aren’t loaning money. They’re too tight. Until they free up some capital, we’re not going to see a whole lot of business expansion or a turn in the real estate markets.

Overall, I see continued weakness for the economy with growth in the 1% range in 2013, a slight rise in inflation, continued high unemployment, and on-going dysfunctional behavior in Washington that doesn’t help the situation or permanently resolve our fiscal crisis.

Cartwright: I say let’s take the bus off the damn cliff and get it over with. That’s going to be about the only way we get the Congress to cut spending. Otherwise, they’ll put off spending cuts for a while and increase taxes to fund the deficit. Then, they’ll conveniently forget about the spending cuts. Where are all the spending cuts that were supposed to happen as a result of the debt ceiling increase deal back in 2011? They haven’t happened.

The leadership in Washington is the biggest threat to our economy. They progressive socialist policies being pursued by the Democratic party will take us down the same path as Greece and Spain and Portugal and Italy and so on and so forth. I just don’t understand why they can’t comprehend this. Bigger government and cradle to grave doesn’t work. None of these places have really vibrant economies if you’ve noticed and they’re all bankrupt. Why do they think it’s going to be any different here? It won’t be different here, but they’re only interested in one thing…buying votes. The more hand outs they give, the more votes they get. And the longer they’re in power the deeper and deeper in debt they’ll get us and the higher and higher they’ll raise the taxes and further and further into the black hole goes our economy. And then, they start dismantling the Constitution and taking our property and taking our money and taking our guns and taking our liberty. Of course, the ones at the top keep their positions of power and their wealth but everyone else has to give it all up for the good of their fellow comrades. Sound familiar?

We need to get back to some basics. We need to shrink the size of the federal government; it needs to drastically cut programmes and spending. We need entitlement reform—real reform and not the kicking the can down the road reform that we’ve always gotten. We need reform of the tax code so that there isn’t a disincentive to be successful. But more importantly, we need to change the philosophy of a large number of Americans who believe that the government is there to give them handouts. We need to break and stop the cycle of dependency people have on the government. It’s not easy because it will require sacrifice, and we all know that people in this country don’t generally want to make sacrifices.

We need some common sense in Washington. Individually we cannot spend more than we make for a long period of time. Oh, we can max out credit cards, but when the cards are maxed, you can’t spend anymore. Washington needs to realize that it can’t spend more than it takes in. Only in Washington can you suspend economic reality and budget an increase in expenditures each and every year even when you know revenues are lower and lower or insufficient to cover the expenditures. It’s asinine.

But here again, no one in Washington has the guts to tell any department that they have to cut spending. How about telling each department that they have to reduce spending this year by 2% across the board? They can probably find that much waste in each department each year to save the taxpayers’ money. No, the Democrats just want to increase taxes. Let’s just raise taxes and we don’t have to cut spending. Let the rich and successful people pay more; they don’t pay enough. The rich and successful are evil people. They deserve to have their ill gotten money taken from them and given to people who are lazy and shiftless and who haven’t done anything to better themselves.

It’s disgusting to have to sit back and watch these idiots in Washington just squander our money. They don’t seem to understand that the money they’re spending isn’t their money. It’s the taxpayers’ money. It’s money coming right out of the pockets of hardworking Americans who go to work every day and who struggle to make a living for their families.

Here’s an idea. Let’s take all the millions of dollars from the people in the Congress and put them to work in a minimum wage job somewhere. Let them see what it’s like for normal people. No Washington, DC high society. No staffers. No perks. No free lunches. No being wined and dined by lobbyists. Let’s let them work flipping burgers and see how hard it is to make a living while we take money out of their paychecks to waste. Maybe it’s a dose of reality that these politicians with their heads in the clouds need. Anyone like that idea?

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